Reporting from Chicago -- The Angels haven't had much use over the last week for Kevin Jepsen and Fernando Rodney, their starting pitchers either pitching nine innings or falling so far behind that the pair of setup men remained confined to the bullpen.
They looked rusty Thursday night, but an Angels lineup that has featured more soft spots than the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man broke through at U.S. Cellular Field.
Juan Rivera hit a two-run homer and every position player except seldom-used catcher Bobby Wilson and third baseman Kevin Frandsen picked up at least one hit as the offense compensated for some shaky relief pitching during the Angels' 6-5 victory over the Chicago White Sox.
"We've been struggling to get guys on and make things happen," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "Tonight we did and had a combination of baserunning and power."
Angels starter Ervin Santana pitched seven strong innings, giving up seven hits and one run before departing with a 6-1 lead that seemed secure with the normally steady Jepsen and Rodney waiting to work the eighth.
Jepsen, who had not pitched in eight days, recorded two quick outs before unraveling as the next four batters reached base. Carlos Quentin singled to right field, Mark Teahen walked and Alexi Ramirez singled past shortstop Erick Aybar to load the bases for Gordon Beckham.
Jepsen hung a cutter to Beckham, who hit a two-run single to center. Scioscia then replaced Jepsen with Rodney, who had been unhittable for most of the season's first two months.
"He's been throwing the ball great," Jepsen said of Rodney. "Right now I wouldn't want anybody else coming in with my guys on base."
They weren't on base for long Thursday. Juan Pierre chopped an infield single off Rodney's glove to load the bases again for A.J. Pierzynski, who ripped a ball to left field that bounced over the wall for a two-run, ground-rule double.
It was a fortuitous bounce for the Angels because the speedy Pierre, who represented the tying run, was forced to stop at third base.
"He was already at home plate, I think, by the time it bounced over," Jepsen said. "It's like, 'Thank you.'"
Rodney then fell into a 3-and-0 hole against Andruw Jones before getting the former Dodger to
fly out to center field to end the inning.
Closer Brian Fuentes followed with a perfect ninth, prevailing in a rematch with Paul Konerko one night after the slugger had blasted a homer. Konerko flied out on a full count after being ahead 3-and-0.
"It's been a struggle for me to this point," said Fuentes, who recorded his sixth save, "but things are getting better and I'm always an optimist."
There was also reason for a cheery outlook when it came to the Angels' offense. Hideki Matsui drove in a run and snapped an 0-for-13 slide with a sixth-inning single, Kendry Morales tied a season high with three hits and Rivera extended his hitting streak to seven games.
Rivera credited his recent success to being more selective at the plate.
"Before, I'm taking too many pitches," Rivera said. "Now I'm looking for one pitch. That's what I [did] last year too."
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